Monday, November 10, 2014

Street Art and Remembrance

One of the things I love about being out and about in France, especially during the summer months, is that you are almost guaranteed to stumble across an art installation somewhere. It is likely to be big, bold, colourful and free and it is just as common to find something in a small village as in a large city. Art in the streets is something I think of as being very French and is something that France does well, putting in that little bit of extra effort to look good; giving a town, village or riverbank that certain je ne sais quoi and adding a bit of interest to the passing visitor.

I have previously written a couple of posts about regular art features found locally in Poitou-Charentes; in Angouleme (home of the bande dessinée/cartoon art), in Barro (a small village on the river Charentes that has an annual photography event) and in our local town of Melle. This year, having ventured further from home I was not disappointed, although some of the art was a little bizarre. Here are some pictures of my favourite open art displays from this summer.

French Village Diaries Normandy street art Caen World Equestrian Games 2014
Colourful horses in Caen, Normandy celebrating the World Equestrian Games

French Village Diaries Festival des Bords de Vire Land Art Normandy 2014
Festival des Bords de Vire, Land Art in the Vire river valley, Normandy

French Village Diaries Droles d'Oiseaux Vouvant Vendee 2014 street art
Droles d'Oiseaux (strange birds, made from scrap metal) in Vouvant, Vendee

However, one of the most spectacular art displays this year took me even further from home than northern France. London was an important part of my life before moving to France and I always enjoy a visit, especially to The City and the area where I worked. When I realised Ade had work in London during Ed’s October holiday I suggested an extra UK family trip and felt it was important to visit the impressive art installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at The Tower of London. I now know that it’s not just the French that can put on a show when it comes to street art. With one ceramic poppy to represent every British life lost during the First World War the 888,246 poppies are both spectacular and very moving. 

French Village Diaries The Tower of London Remembers 2014 TowerPoppies First World War
The Tower of London Remembers

It couldn’t have been more perfect if it had been planned this way; Ade was based in an office over-looking St Katherine’s Dock (just over the road from the Tower), Ed and I visited The Tower Bridge Experience, then we all saw the poppies together before having a meal out and seeing a show. Even the weather was superb and we got to catch up with friends and family too.

I feel it is very important that the younger generations are made aware of the horrors of war and the sacrifices that were made. Ed has now visited some of the D-Day landing beaches and war graves in Normandy, the poppies in London and tomorrow, to tie in with a school history project on the First World War, he will take part in our village remembrance ceremony. Tomorrow is a public holiday in France and villages, towns and cities will all be holding a service often followed by a vin d’honneur. Ed along with three other young people will be reading out the names of the villagers who lost their lives. I will be a very proud Mum.

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